Chicken import rebates ‘good for the poor’

The Association of Meat Importers and Exporters (Amie) believes the government’s move to implement rebates on boneless and bone-in chicken portions will most notably impact the poor, who rely on it for protein.

On Friday, the association applauded Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition Ebrahim Patel, and the International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa (Itac) for making the decision.


Listen/read: Delays in avian flu vaccination could be resolved by end February

The rebate decision is outlined in a Government Gazette amendment dated 26 January 2024, which provides for a 30% rebate for boneless and a 25% rebate for bone-in cuts of imported chicken.

Imported chicken currently carries a duty of 62% for frozen bone-in and 42% for boneless chicken pieces.

The decision, however, places what seems to be a time cap on the relief of imports by noting it will be in place “for the duration of a shortage of chicken as a result of an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza in South Africa”.

Read: Still no support for local industry in wake of bird flu outbreak

“As AMIE, we congratulate the Minister and the International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa (Itac) on this decision and look forward to the guidelines, which will be published in due course,” Amie said in a statement.

“We also hope that the Department recognises the importance of this move for consumers, and that they streamline the process to eliminate any red tape in rebate applications for importers.”

It added: “Government’s mandate is to act on behalf of its citizens, and this requires it to do all it can to ensure that the country is food secure and that the poor are able to afford poultry. This decision demonstrates that the Minister is acutely aware of this.”

Bird flu outbreak

2023 was a horrid year for many poultry farmers in South Africa as it ushered in the worst bird flu outbreak the sector has ever seen, resulting in the mass culling of birds and causing an egg shortage in many parts of the country.

Last year, the insidious H7 strain of the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) thrived in the country’s inland regions because of the high density of farms, allowing for the faster spread of the virus between farms.


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A report released by the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity Group (PMEJD) this week indicated that in January 2024, frozen chicken portions and chicken feet recorded a 2% and 3% increase, respectively, while year on year, a 10kg bag of frozen chicken pieces costs R417.51, up from R395.72 in January 2023.

More concerningly, egg prices in January 2024 registered dramatic price hikes, with a tray of 60 eggs costing R177.50 – making it 50% more expensive than in January 2023, according to PMEJD data.

Listen to this SAfm Market Update podcast where Jimmy Moyaha speaks to PMEJD’s Mervyn Abrahams about rising food prices:

You can also listen to this podcast on here.

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